Trigger warning: Abuse, assault, rape, rape threats and alluding to Harvey Weinstein and the Twitter situation.
Friends, I’m exhausted.
I’m emotionally exhausted from reliving my trauma every day on social media. I’m exhausted on behalf of all women and non binary folks that have to constantly share their stories to make men realise and believe what we’ve all been saying for years. I’m exhausted because the only way we can seem to show how widespread this toxic masculinity and assault is is by sharing the things we’ve worked for years to forget.
What were you wearing? Did you lead him on? Were you drunk?
Pyjamas. I pretended to be asleep. Yes but only to block out the pain.
I’m done with being questioned and with the endless victim blaming. With the notions that being a good girl who dressed appropriately and said no could’ve stopped these monsters from taking everything from us. With the belief that beautiful, made-up twenty-year-old girls are the only ones assaulted by men in power. With the insistence that we could’ve stopped that teacher standing too close; that boyfriend beating us; that husband raping us. With remembering the men who leered at us as we did our grocery shopping; stood too close to us in lifts; touched us no matter what we wore.
I’m sick of having to explain that rape jokes are not funny, that I can’t laugh when they say an opinionated woman just needs a good seeing to, because I am that opinionated woman. Do you think I should be silenced by a man ramming his cock down my throat?
I’m physically exhausted from having to carry things that will keep me safe on public transport at night; something to cover up if I’m dressed in anyway that could draw attention; taking off red lipstick so men don’t try to smear it. Tying up my hair, taking off my jewellery, putting on a hoodie — all to make myself look less of a target, while at the same time perpetuating the myth that my clothes are to blame for my assault.
I’m sick of having to text my friends where I am and when I’ll be home; of texting them the minute a man seems vaguely threatening, giving them proof and seeking solidarity. Do you think he’s texting his pals “here lads just followed a girl down the street, top bants”? I’m exhausted from having to carry books and ear phones to show that I don’t want to be disturbed. I wish I could stop the panic when my phone is on low battery. What if I don’t make it home?
I’m through with having to display myself as another man’s property so that they’ll back down, respecting him and his ownership over me, over my no. Fake engagement rings on nights out so men will leave me alone at bars. Fake phonecalls when my phone dies promising I’ll be home soon; real ones where I’ve told my boyfriend loudly that I missed him then having to text him later to explain the full situation. The terror of being on the other end of the phone when a friend texts or calls you and tell you to just keep talking, knowing they could be being followed and not daring to hang up until their key is in the lock.
I remember vividly the time I had to make up a whole fake husband waiting for me at home when a taxi driver got that bit too close; how quickly and easily it all came to me; the change in him when he realised I was someone else’s property.
My chest aches wishing I could share my story with everyone, hoping it will give others strength, but knowing time and time again that nothing will be done — online or offline. That while users are still seen first and foremost as advertising revenue, Twitter will continue to turn a blind eye to abusive messages and rape threats in one breath, and suspend women for speaking up in the next.
Most of all, I am exhausted — physically and emotionally — from this happening time and time again to women; from being told that we should be the ones working harder for our own safety.